3- Long-awaited talk
Just as he was warned, he comes across Bunnymund fretting over the fact that he can't find her anywhere. His anxiety only slows down a little at the sight of Jack, but after Bunny's informed himself on his well-being and awkwardly declared he's relieved, he goes back to fretting. Sandy has long since given up –probably realizing Tooth has a good reason to be missing- and seems pretty amused with the current situation. Jack walks away just as the Easter Bunny is suggesting a hundredth round of looking under the sofas and he can't help but smile at the thought that, for someone whose job consist in hiding stuff, Bunnymund's a rather sucky searcher.
The surroundings to North's room are deserted, he notices with a somehow relieved feeling as he approaches the bedroom door. But upon placing his hand on the handle, he hesitates. As hyped as he was about seeing her, he hadn't really had time to think things over. What is he going to say? What does one say to the person who saved your life with a kiss? He almost hits himself with his own staff at this thought. That hadn't been a kiss! Or had it-?! No, It was just as the bloody Kangarro had said, Tooth had only done her duty as his teammate…granted, in a rather unconventional way. With an unarticulated groan, Jack lets go of the handle and runs a hand through his hair. He has the feeling he's forgetting something, but what? Another question interrupts his thought, why did he have to mess up so Tooth had to save him and make things so damn complicated?
'Well, I guess I'll keep it simple, then" he resolves, squaring his shoulders "I'll go in there, say thank you and then leave before things get too awkward'
He nods; perfect plan. Without any more hesitation, he opens the door and steps inside, preparing himself, however, the half-screamed thanks he had planned die on his lips as the sight of a sleeping Toothiana greets him inside the room.
She's lying on her side, feathers and wings extending around her, making her look like an exotic work of art…hell, she is an exotic work of art. Jack swallows a sudden knot around his throat and approaches her, unsure of what he should do. He ends up sitting on the bed next to her, despite the unpleasant heat from North's bear pelts.
He remembers in all clarity how he saw her back in the pond and compares it to how he sees her now. The shimmering feathers, the small bandaged hands –he cringes a little at this, knowing the cause was him- the impossibly long eyelashes…there are so many things about Tooth that make her rare and beautiful at the same time, and it had taken almost dying for him to stop and think about it. Perhaps he hasn't thought much about it because he's gotten used to her? It's possible. Their first meeting hadn't been exactly romantic, what with her tugging his mouth open to see his teeth and the whole New Guardian thing. And soon they had too many other matters in their heads to waste time thinking about stuff like that.
But, fair is fair, many times Jack's found himself staring. Centuries of being surrounded by people who couldn't see him have given him a thing for watching other people and Tooth is no exception ; even back at Pitch's incident, sometimes he couldn't help but stare. She'd caught him a couple of times, and in each her reaction had been flustered…but above all, surprised, as if she couldn't believe someone would stare at her. Was it really that weird for him to stare? Or was it because it was him? He realizes he's rested his elbow on his thigh, and his chin on his hand, and more importantly, that a smile is tugging at the sides of his mouth and there's blush on his face.
Shoot, he's such a creep! But he can't help it.
Suddenly, her eyelids flutter open and he all but leaps back. It takes her a moment to realize what she's seeing, but when she does, she offers him the same sweet, sleepy smile she'd offered him on the sled.
"…hello there" she coos . Jack's pretty sure his face is completely red by now.
"H-hey" he replies, waving nervously. She stretches, giving him a chance to clear his throat and try and regain some seriousness.
"I was looking for you" she continues, sitting up.
"Yeah, so I was told" he replies, sitting on the bed next to her, albeit a little hesitant.
"When I saw you weren't here, I'd figure I'd wait for a while to see if you'd come back but….well, this bed is too comfortable" well, that's debatable, he thinks "I figured it wouldn't hurt to lie down for a while…"
It occurs Jack that this is an extremely uncommon thing for Tooth to do, unless…
"Tooth" he says in a reproachful tone "Don't tell me you went straight to work right after recovering..:"
"Well, of course I had to! Teeth weren't going to collect themselves"
"Uh-huh. So you didn't give yourself a moment's rest even though you almost froze to death…" he chides her softly. She discards it with a gesture.
"Jack, don't exaggerate, I was merely a little chilled, that's all"
He rolls his eyes despite the smile that's spreading in his lips. She's such a workaholic!
"Besides…well, I spent so many years letting my fairies do most of the work…I guess I didn't want to miss a chance go out, fly through the world, see the kids…" she pouts slightly "But during the night, the other guys kept turning up to help me collect teeth. Normally I would have loved this, but—"
"Let me guess, they were actually looking out for you"
"Looking out? They were harassing me! North kept insisting he should fly me everywhere on his sled so that I 'Didn't tire myself out'…honestly, I may be a little out-of-shape, but I'm still the Tooth Fairy! And one that's a very good flyer too!" her cheeks are flushed with indignation and her feathers are ruffled. Jack wonders whether it's bad for him to think she looks adorable like this…but then he reminds himself that he's staring "And then Sandy! He just kept inspecting every room before I could go inside it to see if it was safe. It was taking me thrice as normal to collect each tooth with him around! And don't get me started on Bunny…"
"Let's hear what dear old Cottontail did"
"He basically kept telling me to sit put while he did everything for me! I know he was trying to be gallant, but that was just downright rude of him! "
Jack chuckles, though he gets where the others come from with all their over-protectiveness of Tooth. She seems small, and colorful and fragile…one wouldn't even suspect how much she's been through and how strong it has made her. Jack realizes he's staring at her yet again and he clears his throat averting his eyes.
"So…how did you get rid of them?" he asks.
"Oh, well, I told them I wanted to check on you. That prompted an argument between them, over who should get to fly me here…so I sneaked while they were at it, and…well, you know the rest, this nice, warm bed…" she trails off sleepily but an alerted look comes to her face suddenly "Oh, my! Do the others know where I am?"
"Nope. Only me" Jack says. It's not exactly true, but no one's gonna come looking for her anyway and he can always freeze the door solid if they try.
She lies down again with a relieved sigh.
"Oh, good. I really appreciate what they were trying to do for me, but gosh...!"
Jack chuckles again, but as the reason why he came looking for her in the first place intrudes in his mind again, he clears his throat and steadies himself. The sooner he gets done with it, the better.
There's still something he wants to say before thanking her, though.
"You saved me yesterday" he says, slightly hesitant. She looks away, seemingly bashful "But you really shouldn't have gone into the water"
"I take it the guys told you about my problem with getting wet" she replies softly, with a hint of a smile. He scowls softly, this is no laughing matter.
"Tooth, I'm serious. Don't do something like that again, not even for me"
His tone warns her about his seriousness in the matter, so she sits up, her expression serious.
"Jack, I couldn't just leave you there. You know that" she says, conciliatory. The fact that she sounds so reasonable annoys him for some reason.
"Yeah, well, you could have told the other guys what was happening…" he grumbles
"I'm sure they told you this already, but I was the only one around for the moment and there was no time to lose"
"Well, you should have waited for them!" he bursts. He regrets it immediately, at Tooth's hurt and shocked expression.
"What's wrong?" she whispers, moving closer to him. He breathes out, partially because he's trying to regain calm and partially because her proximity takes his breath away.
"…I don't want you to get hurt because of me" he finally says.
"Oh Jack…" she catches his face between both her hands and makes him turn gently "…look, I'm alright! I'm not hurt at all, see?"
He retreats slightly so he can stare at her hands intently and she scoffs.
"They're just scratches, don't worry about them…!"
"Promise" he says curtly.
"That you'll never do anything as reckless as that again" he explains, looking at her puzzled expression "…please, Tooth, you gotta promise me that or I won't be able to fight without worrying about you. Promise"
All of a sudden, her feathers are ruffled again.
"Jack Frost, are you implying that I can't take care of myself?"
"That's not what I said" he retreats. She's hovering, her arms straight at her sides.
"For your information, I was already an expert fighter back when your p-perfect pearly whites were merely sprouting! I think I deserve a little respect from you at least for that!"
"Listen, that's not what I mean, I just-!" he lets out a frustrated breath and rests his forehead in his staff before continuing in a calmer tone "I just…when Bunny told me about your feathers…I just…I felt like an idiot for letting you risk yourself like that for me!"
She seems to consider his words, and lets out a sigh.
"I did it because you needed me" she says. He's pretty sure his stomach did a backflip. She sits close to him again, staring at her hands.
"…for three-hundred years, you needed me and I failed you, Jack" she whispers "I promised myself I wouldn't fail you. Never again"
Jack's brow knits. Is she guilt-tripping herself over him? Over his…his situation before becoming a Guardian? They'd talked about it before, on the nights where he'd offered to help her collect teeth, or those rare days-off she allowed herself. He'd said it so many times, that he understood, that he should have asked for help, that he didn't blame them. How were they supposed to know about his problems if he didn't speak up? And yet, Tooth's still blaming herself for not helping him earlier, for not guessing. Now he gets how his friends feel when they hear him beating himself up over his past mistakes. Another thought crosses his mind; the way Cottontail had apologized to him the day before. Were the other guys blaming themselves too?
She places a hand softly over his shoulder, as if telling him to let it go.
"I'm OK now, really" she makes a pause and chuckles lightly "Just make sure you don't make an habit out of falling inside lakes, OK?"
He can't hold back a smirk at this.
She smiles. He's breathless again.
"Good" she hovers, and stretches her arms "Well! I think I'm all set after that nap. I better get back to work"
The realization that he hasn't really talked about what he wanted to hits Jack, erasing the smile off his face.
"W-w-wait, Tooth!" he calls nervously. She looks at him, intrigued. He's pretty intrigued himself. Jack Frost losing his cool? Unthinkable. He clears his throat "Th-there's still something else we need to talk about"
She tips her head slightly, but goes back to sitting on the bed nevertheless, because anything that makes Jack this nervous promises to be interesting. He switches his staff from hand to hand a couple of times, trying to find where to begin with, but, well, he's new to this kind of stuff, it's proving hard.
'Aw, heck. Just get done with it already!'
"So, um…" he begins. Man, that's lame! He tries again"…Tooth, about what happened in the water-" she's hovering in front of him before he can finish. He all but stumbles back.
"Y-y-you were awake?!" she asks in a squeak, her face the color of North's coat "Ohmygosh, Jack I'm so sorry, so, so, so ,so sorry!" she's talking so fast he has problems catching what she's saying. The fact that she starts circling around the room nervously doesn't help "Y-you weren't moving anymore and-and-and had your eyes closed and I-I-I was scared you wouldn't open them again and—I-I've heard it said that when people spend too much time without oxygen they get brain damage, so I—I wasn't sure it'd even work, you know, but I had to try and—well, it worked, but-"
"Tooth" he calls, raising both palms in a calming gesture "Breathe. Slow down. You're gonna give yourself a heart attack"
Tooth obeys, albeit still deeply blushed.
"Listen, I understand, OK?" Jack continues.
"Really?" she asks, visibly relieved "S-so it didn't bother you?"
Now he's perplexed. Bothered? Well, now that's a thought that hadn't even crossed his mind. Flustered? Sure. Confused? Yeah, OK. Bothered? No. Not in the least. If anything he'd been…pleasantly shocked. He'd even say he'd enjoyed it-er, well, and it had saved his life, so, what would make her think something that saved his life would bother him…?
Then it hits him, what he's been forgetting.
"It was a kiss, then" he says bemusedly; her face turns scarlet yet again, he walks to her and catches her hands between his, his voice shaking with excitement "After you breathed into me…after that…it was a kiss, wasn't it?!"
He remembers now. Her hands had moved towards the back of her head, and her lips had moved against his, and grown so warm. It hadn't been just a teammate taking one for the team, it had been Tooth kissing him because she had chosen to.
His train of thought vanishes as he realizes Tooth looks like she might faint, looking at their hands, and then him, and then their hands again…damn, he's staring again!
"…I tried to kiss you back" he says. Her eyes widen.
"W-what..?" she squeaks.
"I-I was just starting to kiss you back when you stopped…"
She lets out a small, breathy laugh.
"I-I thought you were squirming!" she confesses, seemingly relieved.
"No, no, I was kissing you back"
"So that means you…" she's so flustered she can barely speak "…t-that means I…what I feel…you too…?"
Words get stuck in his throat. In all his years, he's only used the word 'Love' when attached to the words 'Riding the wind', 'Pranks', 'Snowfights', and, more recently, his sister's name. Using it for something else feels weird. But he realizes she feels the same way, because neither of them can breathe. He remembers it was the thought of forgetting his friends –of forgetting her- what made him finally fight the fearling off; now he knows that, should he ever find himself in a situation like that again, he'll never stop fighting. He has a good reason to. He has good friends who'll stand by him and a girl who's bowed never to fail him.
This time, it's him who makes the move, his hands still wrapped around hers. And this time the kiss steals his breath away, but he feels alive.
C.C (AKA) the author here.
Well, that was fun. I wrote this hoping it would help my obsession with these guys, and the RotG stuff in general calm down, but it seemingly just added fuel to the flames *sigh* Such is the life of a fangirl. I'm still gonna try to work on something Non-RotG related after this, but I doubt I succeed. Anyway, hope you enjoyed reading my little piece of fanfiction. It's seriously the most fluffy thing I've ever written, but I'm still proud with how it came out. Comments and critics are always welcome!